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Meet the husband-and-wife publishing team who backed Booker Prize winner Marlon James

Oneworld Publications are the small firm who brought A Brief History Of Seven Killings to our bookshelves

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ES Lifestyle On the list: Marlon James ( AFP/Getty Images )

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A couple who set up a small London publishing firm in “a moment of madness” 30 years ago were celebrating today after one of their books won the Man Booker Prize.

Husband-and-wife team Novin Doostdar and Juliet Mabey snapped up A Brief History Of Seven Killings by Marlon James for Oneworld Publications on the strength of the first three chapters. They had already published his previous novel — their first foray into fiction.

James is the first Jamaican-born author to win the £50,000 prize, which was presented last night at Guildhall. His epic tale of violence and crime was inspired by an assassination attempt on Bob Marley.

Mr Doostdar, who started Oneworld with his wife in 1986 after he quit his job in the City, told the Standard: “We were very young and it was a moment of madness. We were students at Edinburgh University together and we often thought at some point we might go into something book-related but we weren’t sure what. I was working for Ernst and Young as an accountant but books and publishing is just much more fulfilling.

“We have been running just short of 30 years now and we only started publishing fiction about five years ago. Our first fiction book was The Book of Night Women by Marlon James, he was our very first fiction title.”

The firm, which operates in Bloomsbury with a staff of about 20, has ordered a fresh print run of 80,000 copies to cope with demand for A Brief History Of Seven Killings. Ms Mabey said she hoped the company would also publish James’s next book, which she described as an “African Game Of Thrones”, set in Ethiopia during the Middle Ages.

Man Booker Prize 2015

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James, who is based in the US, described his prize-winning novel as a book of exile. He said he needed the distance from Jamaica to write the book, which features drug lords in the early days of the crack cocaine trade.

Asked how he would spend his prize, he said: “I can go to Gieves & Hawkes, finally get my Ozwald Boateng suit. There are so many great rare book stores here and I can’t be allowed to be let loose there. I should do the sensible thing and put it in a bank account.”

Follow Robert on Twitter: @RobDexES

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The husband-and-wife publishing team who backed Booker Prize winner

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On the list: Marlon James AFP/Getty Images

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